Mayoral Candidate Shaun Bailey On Racism In Politics And Making…

by akoloy

Shaun Bailey, the Conservative Party candidate for London mayor, could also be trailing 12 factors behind Labour’s Sadiq Khan in his bid to be elected on Thursday 6 May. It’s even been reported that his failure is such a foregone conclusion, Tory MPs have been suggested to not marketing campaign for Bailey and that there have been strikes to deselect him prior to now 10 months. If that is the case, and with unlikely candidates – together with actor Laurence Fox and US podcaster Brian Rose additionally working – it appears that evidently Sadiq is heading for a landslide win. And but, Bailey’s not taking it mendacity down.

We meet on Zoom (the place else?), the place he’s charismatic, energetic and simple to talk to, though unrehearsed and off the cuff, in comparison with Sadiq, whom I additionally interviewed just lately. Bailey’s marketing campaign has been problematic from the beginning, each in that he’s been unclear in his messaging and likewise in his refusal to apologise for a few of the inappropriate feedback he’s made prior to now. These vary from victim-blaming girls concerning domestic violence (when he mentioned “repair should start with the girls… if you can get the girls to accept less of men’s rubbish then men would have to change”) to his suggestion that teenage moms pushed individuals who “do the right thing” down the housing ladder, and claiming that homeless Londoners may save as much as a £5k deposit for a mortgage.

Bailey, now 50, was born in North Kensington to a British Jamaican household. As a younger man he gained a level in computer-aided engineering, and spent some years unemployed and homeless. He’s admitted to committing housebreaking in his youth, and drawing on his personal experiences is now large on tackling knife tradition. In 2006 he co-founded the charity MyTechnology to assist younger folks, but it surely closed as a consequence of monetary issues in 2012. He’d already caught the attention of David Cameron and have become his particular adviser on youth and crime from 2010 to 2013. He stood unsuccessfully as Conservative parliamentary candidate for Hammersmith in 2010 and Lewisham West and Penge in 2017. He is married to Ellie and has two youngsters.

Taking all of this into consideration, why does he assume he can do higher as mayor? “London needs a fresh start. We’ve been moving in the wrong direction for four and a half years now. I wanted to be part of the response to that. My life, I’d like to believe, has been characterised by representing people, getting involved, stepping out, putting my head above the parapet. We’ve had major challenges in London around crime, around housing, around transport, around a green agenda, all those things have been major. And although we have lots of advantages as London, we’re not using them correctly, in my opinion. I think we could do more.”

His most important ardour, it appears, is tackling crime, having been a former youth employee himself for a few years. We converse a few weeks after Sarah Everard’s homicide so I’m enthusiastic about how he’s going to make ladies really feel protected on the streets of London. One of his large guarantees is 8,000 extra police officers on the streets. I inform him it’s all very nicely bringing on extra police, however how will he tackle the systemic misogyny throughout the drive, and the methods wherein ladies are mistreated by the justice system, as so usually, ladies aren’t believed.

“But when I talk about 8,000 police officers,” he continues, “the most progressive part of that is, how do we recruit people who are not the usual suspects? Which is effectively men. And when you come at it from a Black community angle, you then realise, the police have to go to different places. Where are women who could potentially be interested in the police force? Do you currently go and recruit in those places? And the answer is probably ‘no’. So let’s change that.

“How many senior police officers are women? When people are planning a police operation, where’s the voice of women in that planning?”

I level out {that a} girl – Dame Cressida Dick – is at the moment main the Met police, and that hasn’t helped ladies to really feel any safer.

“You’re completely right,” Bailey replies. “But what that woman leading the police service needs is more and more women to be speaking to within the force. Because you can put one person in, and they could be the most senior person, that doesn’t drive culture change. Culture change is about being around people. Obviously, as a Black man in London, you can imagine the relationships with the police… If you looked at the Stephen Lawrence case, I remember saying to a local police officer: “I wonder how many of those police officers had any relationship with a Black person. It might have changed the whole way they look at it.”

One of Bailey’s pledges is for a CCTV rollout on public transport to help protect women. But again, there’s an issue that a lot of the women I’ve spoken to, even when they go and report crime on the Tube, it’s not taken seriously by staff. Women are kicked off buses at night and left stranded for not having enough money. There’s not that understanding of the situation that women are finding themselves in, even when it’s seen or reported.

“Yeah,” he says. “So if you look at the time and energy that’s being put into unconscious bias training, we could and should put the same level of effort into protecting women, understanding the angle they come from.

“I used to run a charity, I’ve been a youth worker for 20-odd years, and I remember when a girl came to me and said, ‘Right, we’re going to start a girls’ group.’ Now, what was interesting, they never asked permission. They told me they were going to start a girls’ group. And of course, you’re this big man, a 13-year-old girl bursts into your office and tells you what’s going to happen, and I remember thinking to myself, ‘OK.’ But that was an educational piece for me, and we’re talking 20, 25-odd years ago. I sat in that group and heard so many different stories about people just not understanding what the pressure is to be a woman. And obviously, as a man, you’re walking through the universe, you don’t know.”

I ask what he thinks concerning the Conservative Party’s failings of their portrayal of girls, pondering particularly of the Government’s recent sexist ad campaign asking folks to remain at residence in the course of the pandemic, which featured illustrations of girls ironing and taking care of youngsters.

“Before this interview someone talked to me about this and said, ‘What are you going to say about Conservatives and women’s rights?’ I said, ‘Hold on, let’s look at Labour.’ If you go back to the union movement, all through the ’70s, they ran a massive campaign to keep women at home. Their motto was, ‘Pay men more so women can stay at home.’ It was a massive campaign, and nobody talks about it.” His remark doesn’t appear to know the irony that these views of girls do belong within the ’70s.

Likewise, the Conservative Party hasn’t traditionally been a pure match for the Black neighborhood – does Bailey really feel any rigidity being a Black man and representing a celebration that has been traditionally thought of anti-immigration?

“I can’t tell you how many times I get asked this. I don’t want to deny the history, I’m not a lunatic. There is history there that needs to be overcome. People talk to me about ‘Rivers of Blood’ speeches. And I’ll say to them, ‘So let’s look at Enoch Powell, for instance, he made that speech in 1968 and he was sacked. I’m not telling you the Conservatives have been perfect around race, because they haven’t. But the point is, Labour haven’t been made to pay for [their past] in the same way.”

“I feel that my role is to put my head above the parapet and show Black people we can be anywhere we like, simple as that. I always ask people, ‘Show me where our fortunes changed by giving all of our political power to the Labour Party?’ Because it’s just never happened. The bottom line is this, if you’re on the right, because we are associating with people who are successful, you are held to a higher standard. And I see that, that’s right. You want to make sure that you don’t only focus on those who are socially powerful. I get that. But what it’s meant is, a lot of Labour and left-wingers, let me use that term, have been able to get away with things and not be scrutinised in the same way.”

“[Jeremy] Corbyn as soon as mentioned solely Labour may launch the expertise within the Black neighborhood. I keep in mind my mum saying, ‘Well, what the hell does he think I’ve been doing for the last 70 years?’ [Labour] have solid us as victims, and so they’ve usually tried to make us militant.

Has Bailey personally skilled systemic racism or classism throughout the Conservatives, I ask?

“I cannot express to you how desperate people [in the party] are to help me. There were 61 people who ran to be the Conservative mayoral candidate. Probably six of them were Black, but the winner was Black. And make no mistake, I wasn’t chosen by the party, I was chosen by the members, they had a choice. In the final were three of us, and I was the only Black person, and here I am. Black people want to be mainstream, which means being everywhere on the political spectrum, not just in one corner.”

With that, our fascinating – if considerably chaotic – dialog involves an finish. I depart our assembly liking Shaun Bailey, however not fairly satisfied by what he has to say, and I’m not too involved for Sadiq’s possibilities. I ask him for a photograph. He obliges and grabs a hoop gentle to make sure probably the most flattering picture – however not earlier than including:

“You know, Deborah, my proudest thing about being a Londoner? I’ve gone from being homeless and unemployed to the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London. That is a very long and tortuous journey. But I’m proud that it can happen in London.”

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